Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Workbag: The Dirtbag Evolved

Cedar Wright's "The Wright Stuff: Death of Dirtbagging" really got me thinking about the dirtbag lifestyle and how it is diminishing.  But one thing that is hanging up in my mind is that dirtbagging isn't dying, it is actually evolving.  Like any species, over a period of time, it can undergo an adaptive change to environmental stressors.  Rock climbing, as well, has also undergone changes in the past century, with most of those changes happening in the past 20 or so years.  So if we are to consider rock climbing as the dirtbag's environment, we must assume that the dirtbag has to evolve as well.  That evolution has lead to the "workbag".

A workbag, by my definition, is a person who works the typical 40 hour work week for the main purpose of getting to the next rock climbing destination.  Workbags understand that they will never be the mega famous rock climbers of the world (ie Chris Sharma) and will have to sacrifice their time at the crag to raise enough dough to support other things in their lives (health/car insurance, fuel, utilities, food, family, travel, etc.).  Wages are not going up as fast as the prices of the aforementioned obligations, so finding a steady career/job is the only way to keep up. 

One of the biggest stressors that caused the evolution to the workbag was probably the rise of social media.  Professional rock climbers such as Cedar Wright, Jimmy Webb, Paul Robinson, Chris Sharma, etc., etc., started discovering and showcasing amazing climbing destinations throughout the world. Climbers had the desire to also visit these places but were limited in mobility due to the high costs of fuel, hotel/camping arrangements/hostels, and not to mention the highest cost of all: CLIMBING GEAR!  Dreams and fantasies of traveling the world to these surreal climbing destinations disappear in a cloud of chalk dust when the total cost to get to these places is revealed.  Not all climbers can be sponsored and given a free ticket to explore the world's hidden crags.  Some have to work more and sacrifice the time that could be spent climbing.

Workbags have become plentiful and are easily spotted.  They can be found training in the gyms on weeknights between the hours of 6 and 9 pm and are usually dressed like your traditional dirtbag.  But on days (or summers if they are a teacher) off they can only be found outside at their nearest crag or boulder field.  If we keep with the theme of biological classification, the genus this species (workbag) can be found under the genus title, Weekend Warriors.

But this doesn't mean these workbags aren't dedicated and passionate climbers.  It only means times have changed and so must the general population of climbers.  So if you're a workbag, or even a dirtbag, it doesn't define your passion for climbing, it only defines your amount of time you have to dedicate to the sport.